In season from December to April, blood oranges are distinguished by their deep red centers and blushed skin. A little smaller than navel oranges, they're fragrant and less acidic than other orange cultivars, with a flavor profile that hints at berry notes. As versatile as any other citrus fruit, they're an ideal complement to seafood, desserts and cocktails — a bloody perfect fruit to keep on hand for these five recipes and more.
Carlynn Crosby, Times correspondent
Blood Orange Margaritas
You never need an excuse to have a margarita; you need an excuse not to have a margarita, especially when it's made with blood oranges during the peak of their season. Rub the rim of a rocks glass with a blood orange slice. Rotate the glass around a plate of sea salt to coat the rim. In a cocktail shaker, combine 3 ounces fresh blood orange juice, ¾ ounce fresh lime juice, 2 ounces tequila and 1 ounce simple syrup or agave nectar. Add a scoop of ice and shake for about 15 seconds. Strain into the rocks glass, add a few more ice cubes and garnish with a blood orange wedge. Recipe adapted from whiteonricecouple.com.
Seared Scallops With Blood Orange Salsa
Seafood and citrus go hand-in-hand, which makes this blood orange salsa great over scallops. Toss together the zest, juice and segmented peeled wedges of one blood orange with 2 tablespoons chopped red onion, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, the juice of ½ lemon and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a skillet pan and set over medium-high heat. Rinse and pat 12 large scallops dry, seasoning both sides with salt and pepper. On a plate, sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar and coat one side of each scallop with the sugar. Place the scallop in the pan and sear for 3 minutes on each side, or until they're almost opaque. Remove from pan and serve topped with salsa. Recipe adapted from thebrewerandthebaker.com.
Blood Orange Cream-Filled Doughnuts
With blood orange syrup swirled into a sweet creme filling, these doughnuts are a scrumptious dessert. Mix 1 package dry yeast with ? cup room-temperature milk and a pinch of sugar. Let rest for 10 minutes, after which there should be a frothy foam on the milk. In a separate bowl, combine 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, ? cup sugar and 2 teaspoons salt. Add to the milk mixture and then mix in 3 large room-temperature eggs, one at a time. Add 7 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter and combine to form a dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, then transfer to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 1 hour. Remove from bowl, punch down the dough, and roll out until the dough is about ½ inch thick. Using a cutter or circular mouth of a cup, cut out 3 ½ doughnuts (don't cut a hole in the middle), re-rolling and cutting excess dough. Place on parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for another hour. Fill a pot with oil, so that it's at least 3 inches deep, and heat to 375 degrees. Fry each doughnut for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels. To make the blood orange syrup, boil 1 cup blood orange juice and ½ cup sugar in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by half. Set aside. For the cream filling, heat 2 cups milk and 1 teaspoon ground vanilla bean in a medium saucepan until it just begins to simmer. Whisk together ? cup sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, ¼ teaspoon salt and 6 large egg yolks in a separate bowl, and then slowly add ? of the heated milk mixture, whisking constantly. Repeat with another ? of the milk mixture and then pour into the pan for the remaining ? of the mixture. Whisk constantly until it begins to boil, then turn down the heat and whisk for another two minutes while the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in 3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, one tablespoon at a time. Allow mixture to cool before covering with plastic wrap and chilling. Once chilled, remove from fridge and whisk in half of the blood orange syrup until thoroughly combined. Brush the remaining syrup along the inside a pastry bag or freezer bag with the tip cut off. Fill the bag with the creme. Mix together ? cup sugar and the zest of 1 blood orange. Using a skewer or the end of a wooden spoon, poke a hole in the side of the doughnuts. Fill the doughnut with pastry creme and then roll in blood orange sugar. Recipe adapted from cookienameddesire.com.
Blood Orange Pavlovas With Grand Marnier
Originating in New Zealand, this meringue-based dessert is crisp on the outside and light on the inside. Usually topped with fruit, it's complemented by blood oranges, which add a sweet bite. To make, cut 6 blood oranges into segments, toss them together with 3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier liqueur and refrigerate. Heat oven to 225 degrees. To make the meringue, whisk together 4 large egg whites, 1 cup sugar and a pinch of salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once the sugar is melted and the mixture is hot, beat using an electric mixer set to medium speed until soft peaks form. Raise the speed to high and continue to beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix in 1 teaspoon each distilled vinegar and vanilla extract. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and, using a rubber spatula, form 12 (3-inch) mounds on the sheets. Make a well in the center of each meringue. Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes, or until crisp. Let cool. While meringues are cooling, whip together 4 egg yolks, ¼ cup orange juice, ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup Grand Marnier and ? teaspoon salt in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until thickened, about 4 minutes. Strain custard into a bowl and refrigerate until cold. Beat ½ cup heavy cream into soft peaks then fold into custard. Before serving, drop custard into each meringue and top with orange segments and juice. Recipe adapted from marthastewart.com.
Blood Orange Marmalade
Distinguished from jam by the presence of fruit peel, marmalade is a good way to preserve citrus for months. To make, cut away the peel and pith from 4 blood oranges. Slice the peel into thin strips and set aside in a large bowl. Slice the fruit into thin rounds and add to the bowl of peel. Pour 2 quarts water into the bowl, which should cover the fruit, and refrigerate for 8 hours to soften the peel. Transfer mixture to a large heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil before reducing heat to medium. Simmer until the peels are soft and the water is reduced by more than half, about 1 ½ hours. Stir in 4 ½ cups sugar and cook until the mixture reaches a syrupy consistency, about 30 to 40 minutes. Spoon 1 tablespoon marmalade onto a plate; if it forms a skin and starts to gel within 5 minutes, it's ready. If not, keep simmering and test every 10 minutes. Once ready, remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup fresh lemon juice. Divide among 4 (8-ounce) jars. Store in refrigerator for about 2 months. Recipe adapted from bonappetit.com.